Mother's milk bank: a boon for working mothers in India

New Delhi, April 19: The picture was quite clear. Even the in-laws of 24-year-old Aarti Kataria wanted a proper gap between their grandchildren. But the urge of Aarti’s husband for a male child, following a girl child 12 months before, is what triggered the entire problem. Though Aarti gave birth to a chubby baby boy, the heavy loss of blood and weakness initially, and her professiol career later became a barrier between the child and his nutrition. Lack of time to breast feed, leading to a continuous supply of powdered milk and other supplements made the child contract severe pneumonia in the very first month of his birth. Despite knowing that the reason behind her child’s condition was lack of mother’s milk - which she was uble to provide due to her busy schedule - the family refused to fall back on mothers milk banks - which make available doted human milk to those in need.

However, scared by the doctors’ repeated warnings to keep the child away from artificial milk and supplements, the Katarias decided to give milk banks a chance and seeing the improvement in her son’s health, Aarti was happy. She even endorsed the idea to her colleagues - mostly working mothers - who too were facing similar problems. According to WHO and Unicef, globally only 20 percent of working women are able to breast feed their children - a must for at least for one to one-and-a-half years after birth.

The two agencies heartily endorse the idea of mothers milk banks, calling it the best food if a new born is not able to get his mother’s milk. “Mothers milk banks are completely safe for the children. Before taking the milk from the donor mothers, there are checks to ensure that they are healthy and well nourished, with no evidence of tuberculosis or other infectious diseases like HIV or hepatitis,” Ankur Kumar, consultant neotal, pediatric and adolescent medicine at the Delhi-based BLK Super Speciality Hospital, told IANS.

He said that before taking the donors’ milk, it is ensured that the woman is not on any medication and, most importantly, willing to dote. A recent study has found that for every 1,000 babies never breastfed (compared to 1,000 babies exclusively breastfed), there were more than 2,000 extra visits to the doctor, 212 extra days of hospitalisation and 609 extra prescriptions in the first year of life.

The burden is huge in developing countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and several others in the Southeast Asian region where health resources are poor. The first mothers milk bank in Asia was started in Mumbai on November 27, 1989.

Explaining the milk collection process, Amrita Desai, lactation consultant at the Pune-based KEM Hospital, told IANS: “Breast milk is collected by trained staff, after taking full aseptic measures. The breast milk is either extracted manually or with breast pumps. The milk is collected in properly labelled sterile containers and transported to the banks under cold storage conditions.” Desai said that once it collected, it is immediately frozen at 20 degrees centigrade after which a sample is taken for its culture.- (IANS)

Top Headlines

No stories found.
Sentinel Assam